Wrongful Death Lawsuits in South Carolina
If someone is injured due to the actions or negligence of another person, the injured party can bring a personal injury claim against that person. But what if the incident leads not to injury, but to death? In that situation, a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed.
What should I know about filing a wrongful death lawsuit in South Carolina?
The plaintiff is the estate of the deceased. In South Carolina, a wrongful death suit must be brought by (or in the name of) the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate for the benefit of surviving family members and heirs.
The defendant may be an individual or an entity. The defendant is the party believed to be responsible for the death, whether that’s an individual or an entity, such as a corporation or a government agency.
Wrongful death suits are civil matters. Because it’s a civil matter, the burden of proof in a wrongful death case is lower than in a criminal matter. The prosecution needs to show only “a preponderance of evidence” to make a successful claim.
A wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury claim. As in a personal injury claim, the plaintiff in a wrongful death claim will need to show that the defendant had a duty of care, breached that duty of care, and directly caused the death/injury through their actions or negligence.
There is a statute of limitations for wrongful death suits. In South Carolina, there is no statute of limitations on criminal matters, but there is for civil matters in general. For this reason, a wrongful death suit must generally be filed within three years of the person’s death.
The death may have resulted from negligence or intention. For
example, a North Charleston Boeing employee died in an accident at work and the jury found that the manufacturer of equipment he was using at the time was negligent and therefore responsible for his death. The case ended with the jury awarding $8.8 million to his widow.
Civil suits for wrongful death may also be brought against someone who was killed intentionally. If the defendant loses, they won’t face jail time as in a criminal case, but will be responsible for paying damages.
Damages may include punitive damages. South Carolina law gives the jury freedom to decide on damages that are “proportioned,” and to bring punitive, or exemplary, damages when appropriate.
Should You Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If your spouse, child, or other close relative was killed and you believe their death was the direct result of another’s negligence or malice, you may be wondering if you should file a wrongful death lawsuit. To help you evaluate your case and make this tough decision, contact Andrew Barr of Fulton & Barr. Andrew is an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you create a compelling case to get the compensation you deserve should you decide to move forward with a wrongful death claim.
It all starts with a free, no-obligation consultation. Call Fulton & Barr at their Greenville office today at (864) 235-3154.